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The need for beads

11 August 2017

Near-waterless technology trumps conventional washers argues Mike Ferrand, director commercial laundry EMEA at Xeros Cleaning Technologies

Any commercial laundry operator or hotel owner will be familiar with the pressures of keeping a lid on costs whilst maintaining linen quality and trying to preserve the environment. But using traditional aqueous methods to wash linens could actually be creating a barrier for them. 

Traditional laundry methods use copious amounts of hot water and chemicals to get garments clean. The combination of the rough ‘drop and slop’ method with intense heat can mean linen loss rates spiral. Furthermore, because these hot water processes require high amounts of energy, this equates to high costs. Not good news for the environment or indeed a business’ bottom line.

What many businesses might not know is that while energy costs might make up a small percentage of turnover, according to the Carbon Trust reducing them can directly increase the business’ revenue without the need to increase sales. All of the money saved on energy goes straight to the bottom line and these marginal gains can make all the difference in today’s competitive marketplace.

Whichever type of business you operate, you should never overlook the huge importance of smart water efficiency in helping you save energy. Indeed, with the World Resources Institute forecasting that demand for water globally is projected to rise by 40% in the next 20 years, the need for businesses to reduce their use of this precious and ever dwindling resource is also building.

However, you do not want to focus on energy efficiency and cost saving at the expense of maintaining customer satisfaction. A recent study by the polymer bead system Xeros found that 94% of hotel guests think towel quality, in particular cleanliness, is important for overall customer satisfaction. In addition, the study found 73% of people think the quality of a hotel’s towels influences their decision as to whether or not to make a return visit, whilst 84% think towel quality influences brand perception.

The waterless laundry trend

Any steps a laundry business or hotel can take, however small, to reduce their energy use will help the UK to achieve its environmental goals as well as enable the companies themselves to reduce escalating energy bills. With the shift towards the adoption of low energy and waterless technologies in recent years, it is clear there is some light at the end of the tunnel for laundry operators and hotels. 

In April 2016 the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, California, installed two Xeros machines, developing its first in-house laundry operating system. This decision was made after severe drought in the state meant that there were severe water restrictions in place which drove up the cost of this precious resource. Since installing the Xeros system, the hotel is saving £1,281 a month on its water bills and £352 per month on energy because there is less water being used that needs heating up. This means that over the year, the hotel is now making average annual savings of £19,599 on water and energy bills alone.

Another major headache for hotels and laundry operators is the issue of linen recovery. But the independent laundry experts LTC recently carried out a review of Xeros’ polymer bead cleaning technology which demonstrated that its linen recovery rate and the percentage of stained linen that could be put back in stock stood at 35.1%, compared with just 22.6% for the traditional aqueous process. 

So, by investing in waterless and low-energy technologies, commercial launderers and hotels can simultaneously take advantage of lower energy bills and higher linen recovery rates whilst also cutting their water use dramatically, thereby enhancing their brand image and drawing in more customers. 

With commercial launderers and hotels under so much pressure to reduce their water and energy use, adopting waterless, low energy technology could be the one vital step they take to build a business that is sustainable both from a business and an environmental point of view.